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Benelli’s 1 131cc naked assassin


WHEN Benelli made its return appearance at the Johannesburg Motor Show last year, many of us were left drooling over the Italian machines. “Truly magnificent,” I remember someone saying and he was right!

Even more magnificent was that I managed to test ride one of these Italian beauties - the Benelli Café Racer 1130. There’s no denying the brand’s strong and rather fascinating heritage so it’s great to see that the manufacturer managed to capture this flair in the new models.

The Café Racer’s design immediately grabs your attention with its strong demeanor and sinful aesthetics. The obscene, mounted cooling fans and minimal body panels, give new meaning to the word provocative. Everything about the bike shouts hooligan! And the powerful 1 131cc, three-cylinder, pulsating engine with 102kW of power and 110Nm of torque is willing to oblige.

Firing the Italian up, the single exhaust pipe appears from under the seat and hums a guttural bellow. Its unrefined sound and enthusiastic throttle response means the Benelli hauls like a lit dynamite fuse and its aggressive riding setup means you can really interact with the machine. It reminds me of riding an old school bike that doesn’t have all the electronic interference. This is how motorcycling is supposed to be and if it’s on a good-looking Italian bike it’s even better.

The naked assassin knows how to get the heart going. Threading it through some curvy corners, the Café Racer, weighing in at 215kg, keeps its composure rather nicely and letting it loose on the open roads, the bike quickly gallops to frightening speeds and shows no signs of struggling. The magnificent six-speed gearbox can be worked quickly and seamlessly.

It’s difficult to fault a bike like this because it delivers exactly what it promises - exciting thrills on a really good-looking machine. It doesn’t hide behind any fairings or electronic gadgetry and while its ride isn’t as smooth as some of its competitors, I can’t help but feel a strong attachment to this bike.  Maybe it’s the exhaust tone or the take-me-as-I-am attitude but this Benelli stands out in a world of conformity. And if the looks and comments I got while on the bike are anything to go by, people love it!

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